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NHS to Face Real-Terms Budget Cuts: A Doctor’s Opinion

NHS discussion on real-terms budget cuts being implemented to reduce the annual agency worker bill of £4.6 bn.

With the new financial year set to begin next month, the chancellor Jeremy Hunt has announced that the NHS will face its biggest budget cuts since the 1970s. NHS real-terms budget cuts are being implemented to reduce the annual agency worker bill of £4.6 bn. These agency workers are essential to cover the shortages that are already faced by the NHS due to shortage in staff across most of the healthcare disciplines. The new financial restrictions to be placed on healthcare will see a 1.2% spending cut in day-to-day NHS budgets in England. Despite the ongoing industrial actions that are costing more money to the NHS than usual, the government has decided to burden the healthcare system even further by cutting down essential budgets.

The Prime Minister and his government have time and again told the British public that the NHS is a priority, and the healthcare of this country will be improved under their stewardship. However, since the current government has come to power the overall efficiency, quality, and satisfaction of the healthcare has declined. Unsurprisingly, this news has not gone down well with the Doctors’ leaders and the hospital bosses, who have already had to deal with the severe rise in expenses of over £2bn due to 15 months of strikes. Ultimately, the patients are the ones who will suffer the most due to these budget cuts as the government is leaving the NHS “severely underfunded” said Sarah Olney, the leader of the Liberal Democrats.

Despite 15 months of strikes, the government has not come to a credible agreement with the junior doctors and consultants. Now the announcement of these cuts has raised an alarm amongst doctors in the NHS that the already dire situation is going to get worse. There is an ever-increasing pressure on the NHS to care for patients, however, with these budget cuts it could be “terminal” and would harm patients in need of vital treatment.

The current situation of the NHS is already challenging with a shortage in staffing. These budget cuts will only further exacerbate the problem and force the hand of hospitals to cut down the number of staff even further and some may even have to implement pay cuts even with the rising cost of living. The news of these budget cuts may come as a final straw for many NHS employees leaving the NHS for better opportunities elsewhere, further causing an intense burden on the demands of healthcare.

Rather than solving the existing problems over pay disputes with the doctors, the government has chosen to force the issue further. The NHS has already faced an enormous rise in bills due to delayed procedures and surgeries. The strikes are set to continue as no agreement has been reached and the budget cuts will only increase the burden on the trust leaders. This budget-cut strategy adopted by the chancellor is counterproductive, as cutting down the budgets while not coming to terms with doctors is flawed. The bills will further rise as a result of these industrial actions.

Wes Streeting, the shadow health secretary labelled Jeremy Hunt as “Hypocrite Hunt” due to a similar crackdown in 2015 on agencies when Hunt was health secretary. He further states that “the taxpayers are paying a heavy price for 14 years of conservative failure.”

Lastly, it is important to note that the NHS is pivotal to the health of this country. With the recent decline in the health infrastructure of the UK, several other countries have overtaken the UK in quality of health. The prime minister increased the health surcharge this year paid by the migrants and their employers to combat the NHS’s lack of funding. However, once again the government has made promises and done the opposite, fooling the general public. The budget cuts will have a severe knock-on effect on several healthcare disciplines and force patients to wait even longer to receive treatment.

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